Martin Courtney (Real Estate) Talks with Tim Darcy (Ought, Cola) on the Talkhouse Podcast

On podcasts, disillusionment, and writing through it all.

On this week’s Talkhouse Podcast we’ve got a pair of songwriters who are meeting for the first time, which we haven’t had in an episode in quite a while. Martin Courtney and Tim Darcy.

Until recently, Darcy was the frontman of the band Ought, which released three fantastic, brainy art-punk albums from their home base of Montreal—despite the fact that Darcy is, in fact, “secretly American.” Ought split up pre-pandemic but that wasn’t really public news until the announcement of the existence of Darcy’s new band, Cola, which he started just a couple of years ago along with Ought bassist Ben Stidworthy and Weather Station/US Girls drummer Evan Cartwright. Just last month, Cola released their debut album, Deep In View, and it feels like a sort of back-to-basics take on their old band—but still fresh and exciting. Darcy is a guy who takes his lyrics seriously, and though he clearly had a great time making the record, there’s a darkness to it that recalls the best post-punk and trebly art-rock of the past 40 years, from Talking Heads to Parquet Courts.

Martin Courtney is the singer and guitarist of Real Estate, the New Jersey-born band that has released five albums of songs that battle gently the urges toward pop-song structure and a slight psychedelic haze. Real Estate had particularly bad timing luck with regard to that worldwide pandemic we’ve all talked so much about over the past couple of years, releasing an album just weeks before the world shut down, resulting naturally in canceled tours and other plans. Instead of diving into another Real Estate album during the lockdown, Courtney decided to take a path of less resistance and record his second solo album. As he jokes in this conversation, most solo albums tend to be an excuse for an artist to indulge their more out-there impulses, but his impulses tend to lead him back toward more structured pop songs. He came up with a killer batch for this record, which is called Magic Sign.

Darcy and Courtney hadn’t met before this chat, but that doesn’t stop them from getting into a great conversation: They talk about how podcasts might be boring—and how that’s okay (!?). They get into Courtney’s slight sense of disillusionment with music in general. Then they bring it back to creative desires: They are both guys itching with ideas and ready to get them out to the world. And, as fate would have it, both are going to be touring this summer, god willing. So get out there and see them, but first, check out this chat.

Thanks for listening to the Talkhouse Podcast, and thanks to Tim Darcy and Martin Courtney for chatting. If you liked what you heard, please follow Talkhouse on your favorite podcast platform, and check out the great new records by both of this week’s guests. This episode was produced by Myron Kaplan, and the Talkhouse theme is composed and performed by the Range. See you next time!

(Photo Credit: left, Sinna Nasseri; Edited by: Keenan Kush.)

Martin Courtney is the singer-guitarist of the Brooklyn band Real Estate, whose fifth album The Main Thing was released earlier this year. Like every other musician on the planet, his band’s touring hopes were dashed by the pandemic, but that hasn’t stopped him from working. The band has recently launched their augmented reality “Quarantour,” which can be experienced by visiting

(Photo Credit: Jake Michaels)